Henry Kamm, Pulitzer-Winning New York Times Journalist, Dies at 98

Henry Kamm, a former Pulitzer Prize-winning international correspondent for The New York Times who coated Cold War diplomacy in Europe and the Soviet Union, famine in Africa, and wars and genocide in Southeast Asia, died on Sunday in Paris. He was 98.

Mr. Kamm’s son Thomas confirmed the loss of life, at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

From the continent he had fled at 15 to flee Nazi persecution throughout World War II, to the battlefields and killing fields of what was then often called Indochina, Mr. Kamm was the consummate star of The Times’s international workers: a quick, correct, fashionable author, fluent in 5 languages, with world contacts and reportorial instincts that discovered human dramas and historic views within the day’s information.

His early displacement deeply influenced his 47-year profession with The Times, Thomas Kamm, a former Wall Street Journal correspondent, stated in an e-mail in 2017. It “explains the interest he always showed throughout his journalistic career for refugees, dissidents, those without a voice and the downtrodden,” he stated.

Henry Kamm gained the 1978 Pulitzer Prize in worldwide reporting for articles on the plight of refugees from Southeast Asia who fled their war-torn homelands in 1977 and braved the South China Sea. Many sailed for months in small, unsafe fishing boats, struggling horrendous privations, solely to seek out themselves undesirable on any shore.

In interviews with a whole lot of the refugees — “boat people,” as they had been referred to as, who had sought security within the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Japan — Mr. Kamm wrote of the despair of males, women and kids whose escape from possible loss of life had led to ordeals of close to hunger, terrors of drowning on the high seas and crushing rejection because the world turned them away.

“In the sad picture of the wanderings on land and sea of tens of thousands of refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia since the end of the Indochinese war two years ago,” Mr. Kamm wrote from Singapore, “nothing exemplifies so fully all the ironies and pain of people who thought they were choosing freedom and wound up in a limbo of hostility or indifference from those from whom they expected help.”

A decrepit freighter using at anchor out in Singapore Harbor, he wrote, was laden with 249 Southeast Asian refugees who had boarded the ship in Thailand and had lived on its open deck, by way of pitching storms and cruel days of baking solar, for 4 months, discovering no haven in port after port.

“At first they waited to go to a country that would give them a home,” Mr. Kamm wrote. “Then they lowered their hopes to finding a country that would recognize their existence and let them ashore at least temporarily until one government or another decided to let them come to stay.”

Because of Mr. Kamm’s experiences, the Pulitzer judges famous, the United States and several other different nations finally opened their doorways to the Southeast Asian refugees.

Mr. Kamm later wrote two books about Asia. In “Dragon Ascending: Vietnam and the Vietnamese” (1996), he portrayed a nation struggling beneath communism and recapitulated its warfare with the United States within the perspective of a 4,000-year historical past.

His e-book “Cambodia: Report From a Stricken Land” (1998) traced that nation’s descent into barbarity, from the homicide of hundreds of thousands of its personal residents by the Khmer Rouge within the late 1970s by way of the a long time of financial and social struggling that adopted.

“Kamm’s account of Cambodia’s long tragedy is spare, blunt and angry,” Arnold R. Isaacs wrote in The New York Times Book Review. “Based almost entirely on his own reporting, it draws little if any material from the work of other journalists and historians. That this turns out to be a strength, not a weakness, is a tribute to the quality of Kamm’s journalism over the years.”

He was born Hans Kamm in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw in Poland) on June 3, 1925, to Rudolf and Paula (Wischnewski) Kamm. The boy grew up fluent in German.

His Jewish father was arrested in Nazi roundups of Jews following the occasions of Kristallnacht in November 1938, however was launched from the Buchenwald focus camp given that he go away Germany, which he did in May 1939, making his strategy to England and the United States, the place he settled. Hans and his mom, after a protracted, fearful look ahead to visas in Breslau, crossed Europe in a sealed train to Portugal and reached New York on a Portuguese ship in 1941.

Hans attended George Washington High School within the Washington Heights part of Manhattan and realized English. In 1943, he was naturalized as an American citizen beneath the title Henry Kamm. Turning 18, he enlisted within the World War II Army and fought the Germans in Belgium and France, the place he realized French.

Discharged in 1946, he attended New York University and graduated in 1949 with a level in English. Impressed by his data of international affairs and language abilities, The Times employed him as a duplicate boy.

Over the subsequent decade, Mr. Kamm was a newsroom clerk after which a duplicate editor in New York, however had three bylined articles, two in 1958 about developments within the recording business and a 1954 first-person account of island-hopping journey within the Lesser Antilles, an island chain within the japanese Caribbean.

In 1950, he married Barbara Lifton. They had three youngsters: Alison, Thomas and Nicholas. The couple separated within the late 1970s and had been divorced a few years later. Since the ’70s, Mr. Kamm had lived with Pham Lan Huong, with whom he raised her son, Bao Son. With the exception of Pham Lan Huong, who died in 2018, all of them survive Mr. Kamm, together with 10 grandchildren.

After The Times started a Paris-based worldwide version in 1960, Mr. Kamm was despatched there as an assistant information editor. In 1964, he grew to become a international correspondent and commenced overlaying tales throughout Europe.

He was assigned to cowl Poland full time in 1966.

In 1967, he wrote from Lidice, within the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (now the Czech Republic), of the lingering horrors of the 1942 bloodbath of 173 males as a reprisal for the assassination of a Nazi official. And in a go to to Auschwitz, the place hundreds of thousands of Jews had been killed by the Nazis, Mr. Kamm informed of an previous girl swaying atop the ruins of a crematory the place our bodies had been burned as she learn the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the useless.

“The old woman finished the prayer, kissed the book and returned it to the shopping bag she had held between her feet while she prayed,” he wrote. “From the bag, she took a candle that Jews light on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. She lit it, put it in a sheltered spot deep in the rubble of the furnace, climbed down to the ground and left silently.”

Mr. Kamm was The Times’s Moscow bureau chief from 1967 to 1969, and gained a George Polk Award for his reporting from the Soviet Union.

In 1968, he coated the Prague Spring, a interval of liberal reforms — later suppressed by invading Warsaw Pact troops — beneath the Communist chief Alexander Dubcek.

Among Mr. Kamm’s finest information sources was his pal Vaclav Havel, the Czech author and dissident who grew to become the final president of Czechoslovakia (1989-92) and the Czech Republic’s first president (1993-2003).

Mr. Kamm later had assignments in Southeast Asia, Paris and Tokyo, the place he was bureau chief.

In the 1970s, whereas primarily based in Paris, he made frequent journeys to sub-Saharan Africa to cowl devastating droughts, crop failures and famine. Based in Geneva within the 1990s, he reported from many international locations in Europe and Asia.

After retiring in 1996, Mr. Kamm lived in Lagnes, France, close to Avignon in Provence. He later moved to a retirement house within the west of Paris, adjoining to the Bois de Boulogne park.

In 2018, he utilized for and acquired German citizenship — a reconciliation, of kinds, with the nation he had fled as an adolescent. The archive of his papers, together with some 7,000 Times articles, is held by the New York Public Library.

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